Have you seen the “YES” advert on TV?

Voice to parliament Yes ad campaign is ‘misleading’ claims Advance Australia

By Sarah Ison

The Yes campaign’s video advertisement urging viewers to vote in favour of constitutional recognition of an Indigenous voice to parliament is “misleading”, right-leaning ­activist group Advance Australia has claimed.

In a letter to the Australian Electoral Commission, seen by The Australian, Advance Australia raised concerns with Yes23’s omission of “any reference to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice to parliament”.

“The bill currently before the parliament which will form the referendum question and ultimately, if approved by the voters, change the Constitution is called Constitution Alteration (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice) 2023,” the letter, written by Advance Australia’s executive director Matthew Sheahan, said.

“Yet the Yes23 ad does not mention the voice: an inseparable component of the referendum as articulated, so integral that it is the title of the bill.

“Recognition is inseparable from the voice. In our view, it follows that Yes23 may be intentionally misleading the Aus­tralian public on the nature of the referendum to omit that important fact.”

Mr Sheahan said the advertisement’s claim that a Yes vote at the referendum would give Australians “a real say” was misleading because “there is no guarantee what a future voice will make representations on and how the parliament of the day will respond”.

“To tell the Australian people in this ad that the referendum provides a ‘real say’ improperly implies the parliament does not have the power to regulate the voice and further misleads voters,” he said in the letter.

“The electoral act makes it an offence to print, publish or distribute, or cause, permit or authorise to be printed, published or distributed, any matter or thing during an election period that is likely to mislead or deceive an elector in relation to the casting of a vote.”

He urged the AEC to “conduct an appropriate investigation” and form a view on the matters.

A spokesman for the AEC said the commissioner, Tom Rogers, would respond to Advance Australia “in due course”.

A spokesman for Yes23 welcomed Advance Australia “drawing attention” to its campaign.

The referendum on the voice is set to be held later this year.


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